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Brazil and Portugal. Brothers, Friends or Competitors?

von Tamara Berlstein (Autor)

Seminararbeit 2009 12 Seiten

Anglistik - Linguistik



1. Introduction

2. The Cultural Dimensions according to Hofstede's Onion Diagram
2.1 Symbols
2.2 Heroes
2.3 Rituals
2.4 Practices
2.5 Values

3. Conclusion

4. List of References

1 Introduction

At a first glance, Portugal and Brazil do not have much more in common than the language anymore. Portugal is primarily known for Cristiano Ronaldo and the disappearance of Madeleine “Maddie“ McCann, whereas Brazil is the allegory for white beaches, the world's best soccer players and sexy samba dancers.

But you have to bear in mind that the two nations share a common past of more than 300 years, before Brazil declared its independence from Portugal in 1822. Apart from the indigenous indian tribes, it were the Portuguese who established a culture in Brazil. Nevertheless it is almost 200 years now that Brazil had time to develop its own culture. So what is the current Status Quo? It is not easy to answer that question. Of course there are a lot smart books concerning that matter, but in reality there are as many opinions as there are Portuguese and Brazilians.

Originally my aim was to introduce the approaches of Geert Hofstede and Edward T. Hall and apply them on the culture of both nations in order to describe and compare them. Unfortunately this would go beyond the scope of this term paper, so I decided to focus on Hofstede's concept of the “Onion“ (Hofstede and Hofstede 2005: 6 ff.). The literature I found was not much more than travel guides, so my statements are mainly based on personal experience and what I learned during my first year of studying. Of course the history plays an important role in building the culture of a nation, however historical facts are only mentioned if necessary for the reasoning.

2 The Cultural Dimensions according to Hofstede's Onion Diagram

2.1 Symbols

As in every nation the most obvious symbols for Portugal and Brazil are of course the respective flags. The Brasilian flag shows a yellow rhombus on bright green ground. Within the rhombus there is dark blue globe with 27 white stars an a white banner saying Ordem e Progresso (Order and Progress). The pattern was already in use during the colonial times, and in 1889 a slightly changed version of the old flag was introduced as national flag of the republic. There have been minor changes, the current flag is valid since 1992. The green colour in the flag symbolizes the forests and jungles of the country, the yellow colour stands for the rich natural ressources as well as the diamond-like shape of the rhombus. White and blue used to be the traditional portuguese colours, they symbolize the pioneers, their virtues and their lusitanian origin. The motto Ordem e Progresso was introduced by the first republican government. The 27 stars stand for the 26 federal states and the federal district. Remarkably the stars are arranged exactly the way of the astrological constellation that appeared above Rio de Janeiro when the republic was proclaimed in 1889 (Hesmer 2008: 41).

The Portuguese flag is dark green and scarlet red in a relation of 2:3. At the edge of the colours in the vertical middle of the flag the hatchment of the national army in yellow, blue, white and black is shown. It replaced the flag of the constitutional monarchy (which basic colours were white and blue) in 1911, after a republican government was established in 1910 . The colours red and green were a very controversial issue, given that they symbolize the violent past of the country: Originally they were the colours of a radical republican society called Carbonária which was one of the initiators of the revolution in 1910. The official explanation is that red is the colour of “conquest and laughter“ and it is also supposed to be a commemoration of the blood that had to be shed. The green colour is simply explanained to be the colour of hope ( A portuguese once told me that especially elderly people in Portugal think, that the green colour stands for the conquered colonies and the red colour for the blood of the indigenous people.

The national anthems of both nations kind of fit to the flags and therefore differ remarkably. The Brazilian anthem Hino Nacional Brasileiro consists of two longer stanzas and a chorus. This is the chorus:

Terra adorada Adored earth
Entre outras mil Among thousands of others
És tu, Brasil, It is you, Brazil,
Ó Pátria amada! The beloved homeland!

Dos filhos deste solo For the children of this soil
És mãe gentil, You are a gentle mother,
Pátria amada, Beloved homeland,
Brasil! Brazil!

It refers to the different derivations of the inhabitants (entre outras mil) but also points out that Brazil is now the beloved homeland. You also find an allusion to the nature as in the colours of the flag (dos filhos deste solo, és mãe gentil).

The Portuguese national anthem A Portuguesa is much more violent, as you can see in the chorus:



ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
601 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen – Anglistik
Brazil Portugal Intercultural Communication Geert Hofstede Onion Diagram


  • Tamara Berlstein (Autor)



Titel: Brazil and Portugal. Brothers, Friends or Competitors?